That’s a loaded question… Why did I start this blog? Why did I return to the Catholic Church? Why do I have absolute certainty about my faith?
I had neurosurgery a few years ago and things didn’t go quite as planned. They lost me during the procedure and the complications and recovery are still ongoing. That was when I died the first time. I thought I was a good person, better than many at the least – I was in for a surprise. I learned that heaven, hell, and purgatory were very real places and that I found myself like a frightened child when I realized that if life were a test I had just failed. I was revived just in the nick of time. When things started to go south again before I even got out of the hospital I found myself on a ventilator with a poor prognosis and as soon as I could I scribbled “get priest”. I hadn’t set foot in a church in years, and here I was hoping last rites could save my soul, especially since I had become sure I would die again later that night. The priest did come, and once again I did die and was resuscitated. A Much better experience in many ways thanks to the sacraments of the Catholic Church.
This told me everything I needed to know about religion. I felt God’s presence but did not see him, nor did I see Christ, but the sacrament of last rites saved me from eternal Damnation. That was all I needed to know. My wife had a separate conversion experience in and adoration chapel while I was hospitalized, started by my request from that ventilator that she light a vigil candle and pray for my soul.
What you need to know about the second time I died is that I discovered just how much my wife meant to me, and when offered heaven without her, I found myself unable to let her go. I could more easily sever a limb than let her go. I knew I loved her, but until that moment I had no idea just how much. I was bonded to her more deeply than I had imagined. Inside we had developed a symbiosis and it is one of the key marital responsibilities to assist your spouse in achieving salvation – and though I had managed to save myself, I had not saved her yet. I had, however, already sown the seeds when I asked her to light a vigil candle for me the night before they lost me for the second time. She happened to light the candle in a local adoration chapel and was shocked to feel God when she entered the presence of the Eucharist, a personal gift she has retained to this day. It led very quickly to a full and deep conversion by a woman who had no previous positive experience with the Catholic Church. A conversion only strengthened by my miraculous recovery. She too experienced a sense of being torn apart and incomplete, regret at our having not had the son I had always wanted yet, and the hopelessness of a future without me. Just as I had experienced the hopeless of eternity without her.
This experience brought both of us separately to the same new understanding of the sacrament of marriage, the physical and spiritual bonding that occurs when a man and woman give themselves over to each other completely and without barriers. True love builds over time, it thrives on both adversity and success because it is not the experiences of them but the sharing of them that binds our souls. We had already innately understood much of this, but our experiences crystallized everything and sharpened our focus.
Alrighty then! Enough of my inane rumblings, and now to answer those questions…
I started this blog because I found myself all too often being asked for advice by others on how to improve or repair marital relationships, this seemed a more expedient delivery system that would fill a need to have some support for men who often feel alienated and alone when they try to discuss such things with others in or society – they have nowhere to turn. If I make a positive change in one just one mind or marriage then any amount of effort put into this blog is justified. if I’m really lucky they will continue to pay it forward and it might snowball into a wave of change for the better, for ourselves and for our children. I have 3 daughters and I fear for each of them in finding a faithful and loving husband who will cherish and revere them as I do their mother. They have been raised in a household with 2 parents very much in love and devoted to each other and I fear their expectations of a husband far exceed society’s guidelines. They have seen us weather storms by clinging more fiercely rather than pushing each other away and witnessed a symbiosis and a bond that they will seek for themselves and accept nothing less. Happiness is not like any other resource in that by propagating and sharing it, you own is only increased not decreased – how wondrous is the Natural Law that this should be true.
I returned to the Catholic Church because I discovered that purgatory was real, and that the sacrament of reconciliation was truly effective when I died the second time. Since my experience I do not regret my sins primarily because I injured another, my greatest offense is always against God when I fail. I finally understood the difference between perfect and imperfect contrition. What knowledge I gleaned from my experience fits perfectly within the framework of only the teachings of the Catholic Church. There was a definite change afterwards, one that has been permanent and many friends have commented that they like me much better since I died. Most importantly, the mass and adoration chapel feel like being thousands of miles from God but it is the closest I have found since my experience and it satiates my driving thirst to be close to him. Sin makes that feeling impossible, and is avoided at all costs. Following the Church’s teachings provides a sense of grace, direction, and comfort to both of us.
Because of my experiences in the hospital I am certain that there is a God, that there is a life after death, that heaven, hell, and purgatory are real, and that the Catholic Church does indeed hold the power to forgive sins. There is nothing logical about this, it is a matter of faith – and for me certainty. I could not bring anything back, no photos, or audio, or tri-Corder readings to provide acceptable scientific proof. I also know that others will say it was a process of brain death, or the dugs administered in ICU, regardless of the cause, the experience remains – and I lament the thought that I have lost my faith by having certainty. It’s much like the little boy who peeked at all his presents before Christmas morning and in doing so denied himself a wondrous moment of surprise and joy.
**Please feel free to write or comment on this post, I’d really like to hear from those that are able to have this experience and how it is changing their marriage, their wives, and their lives.